Short Story Review: “Animation” by Chris Dangle

pencil shavings

I once knew a writer in the mid-80s, one of nondenominational Christian songs, and about the only lyric I can now remember (for I was then but a child) is “my life’s a vapor.”

This writer was in his twenties then; he later died in his forties (some kind of cancer, I heard about it third- or fourth-handed years later). So, like some poets, his lyrics (or at least the one I remember) ended up being prophetic.

So, when part of your childhood mindset is “life’s a vapor,” carpe diem and all that, it is quite natural to be suspicious of something that calls itself “flash fiction.”

I used to think flash fiction was just a gimmick to lure Gen-Z readers and writers into the ever nonlucrative world of modern publishing.

And there is Hamlet’s remark that “brevity is the soul of wit,” but he may be mad when he says it, and besides, not all brief texts, whether fiction or otherwise, are witty.

All that being said, I’m willing to reconsider things after reading Chris Drangle’s “Animation” (Chattahoochee Review Spring 2018), for here one finds intense, interesting brevity.

Here is a barest-of-bones narrative told seamlessly (or perhaps one should say “without fracture”)—like James Thurber’s (1894–1961) “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” (1939), the Ficciones of Jorge Borges (1899–1986), and some of Kafka’s (1883–1924) parables.

I shall now be more receptive to this genre (and may sometimes admit that even I make mistakes.)

Thrice Joyce: A Third Reading of “Dubliners”

bookbread athens


This was my third time to do so, and it’s probably been five or more years since the last reading. The first two times were bittersweet, except for “The Dead,” which is, of course, perfect.

As a reader trying to be a writer, I was particularly drawn this time around to “A Little Cloud” with its themes of paralysis and procrastination and daydreaming reminiscent of Thurber’s “Secret Life of Walter Mitty.”

“A Painful Case” also struck me, particularly that last paragraph, and that line “He began to doubt the reality of what memory told him.” To me this means that, by the end of the story, for Duffy, Mrs. Emily Sinico, the woman who has died, has now become the memory of a memory for him.


Slick Phrases from Joyce that caught my eyes and ears:

“glad of the dark stupor that would cover his folly” (After the Race)

“Deep energetic gallantries” (Two Gallants)

“bet your bottom dollar” (A Little Cloud)

“slake the thirst” (Counterparts)

“the inane expression of sympathy” (A Painful Case)

“keen pang of lust” (The Dead)

“heliotrope envelope” (The Dead)